Dynamic changes in intrathymic ILC populations during murine neonatal development

Rhys Jones, Emilie Cosway, Claire Willis, Andrea White, William Jenkinson, Hans J. Fehling, Graham Anderson, David Withers

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Members of the innate lymphoid cell (ILC) family have been implicated in the development of thymic microenvironments and the recovery of this architecture after damage. However, a detailed characterisation of this family in the thymus is lacking. To better understand the thymic ILC compartment, we have utilised multiple in vivo models including the fate mapping of Id2 expression and the use of Id2 reporter mice. Our data demonstrate that ILCs are more prominent immediately after birth, but were rapidly diluted as the T cell development programme increased. As observed in the embryonic thymus, CCR6+ NKp46- lymphoid tissue inducer (LTi) cells were the main ILC3 population present, but numbers of these cells swiftly declined in the neonate and ILC3 were barely detectable in adult thymus. This loss of ILC3 means ILC2 are the dominant ILC population in the thymus. Thymic ILC2 were able to produce IL-5 and IL-13, were located within the medulla and did not result from ILC3 plasticity. Furthermore, in WT mice, thymic ILC2 express little RANKL arguing that functionally, these cells provide different signals to LTi cells in the thymus. Collectively, these data reveal a dynamic switch in the ILC populations of the thymus during neonatal development. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1491
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number9
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • innate lymphoid cells
  • lymphoid tissue
  • neonate
  • RORyt
  • thymus


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